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NIST is developing Computer Forensic Reference Data Sets (CFReDS) for digital evidence. These reference data sets (CFReDS) provide to an investigator documented sets of simulated digital evidence for examination. Since CFReDS would have documented contents, such as target search strings seeded in known locations of CFReDS, investigators could compare the results of searches for the target strings with the known placement of the strings. Investigators could use CFReDS in several ways including validating the software tools used in their investigations, equipment check out, training investigators, and proficiency testing of investigators as part of laboratory accreditation. The CFReDS site is a repository of images. Some images are produced by NIST, often from the CFTT (tool testing) project, and some are contributed by other organizations. National Institute of Justice funded this work in part through an interagency agreement with the NIST Office of Law Enforcement Standards.
There are several uses envisioned for the data sets, but we also expect that there will be unforeseen applications. The four most obvious applications are testing forensic tools, establishing that lab equipment is functioning properly, testing proficiency in specific skills and training laboratory staff. Each type of data set has slightly different requirements. Most data sets can be used for more than one function. For example, the Russian Tea Room can be used to evaluate the behavior of a tool to search UNICODE text or display UNICODE text. This set can also be used as a skill test for an examiner to demonstrate proficiency in working with UNICODE text or as a training exercise.